Heroes of Procurement


Expanding Our Product Offerings Helped Meet the Demand for PPE in Australia

CIPS 30 June 2020

Finsbury Green Australia sourced and supplied thousands of items of PPE to support the market and counteract revenue downturn caused by Covid-19

Print, management services and logistics provider Finsbury Green approached the coronavirus pandemic with positivity. With an already diverse supply base, the company took the opportunity to expand its expertise into PPE sourcing and supplying, to help meet the overwhelming demand in the market and increase revenue streams.

By this approach, Finsbury Green built up an accredited PPE supply base in early February using existing suppliers, in preparation of a need for protection against the increasing spread of the coronavirus.

 Contents

  1. Collaborating Internally
  2. Delivering Goods Under Constraints
  3. Agility and Business Continuity
Test tube with Covid on it

 Collaborating Internally

Finsbury Green’s promotional products team in sales worked alongside the procurement team to source thousands of PPE items. While procuring PPE for its own sites, people started to hear from the supply chain that orders were increasing rapidly, which inspired the company to develop a project that could quickly enter into the market. It was possible to pivot to PPE due to the timely responses from suppliers and efficient internal networks. For instance, the teams used shared digital documents and communication systems to ensure they were up-to-date and aligned on goals and orders, as well as social media to spread the word externally.

Finsbury Green highlights that internal collaboration between procurement and the sales teams has been extremely useful for enabling execution of the initial PPE sourcing idea. Rod Wade, marketing director, says: “When Covid-19 struck and lockdown occurred, our five sales teams’ commercial directors met every day to share ideas, developments and updates on PPE which instantly brought an element of agility to the exercise.” 

Due to a fast turnaround from suppliers, significant orders were met for requirements throughout March and April. An ongoing supply base of PPE products is now in place, including items such as hands-free sanitiser dispensers, disposable face masks, gloves, gowns, goggles, glasses, and visors. All are approved by Australia’s medical regulatory body and guidance on PPE, Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA).

“Our relationship with our supply chain is already very solid due to our accreditation process, but with the specific suppliers of PPE it has improved our level of collaboration and communication,” says Wade.

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 Delivering Goods Under Constraints

Delivery timing of the new products was identified as particularly challenging, because logistics and distribution had slowed down across Australia during the pandemic. However, PPE is recognised as a key supply so it has been ensured “a clearer physical path to the end customer” during transport stages. While all state borders are currently closed to non-essential transport, PPE products, food and medical supplies are exempt from border controls and have been shipped freely across the country, according to Finsbury Green. 

Close working relationships with customers have helped communicate flexibility with extended lead times to preempt  bottlenecks caused by high demand. The company has predominantly provided supplies to state government departments in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, but has also worked with corporate firms. Wade says: “In some instances the turnaround was four weeks, however, this did not phase our customers who still placed significant orders knowing the lead times.”

Finsbury Green initially paid orders upfront due to the economic uncertainty for suppliers, but there were no cost implications as the company entered the market early and, therefore, was able to obtain firm orders and avoid price-gouging. Internally, the procurement team has been rewarded for its planning and business agility, with orders now involving larger quantities of PPE, which has allowed the team to negotiate better terms. 

 

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fed ex driver with facemask

 Agility and Business Continuity

Finsbury Green is a multifaceted company with many secure contracts, but in such a perilous period, adapting to a gap in the market by pivoting to PPE production helped “bolster” other areas of the business.

“While our print management services revenue has dropped by 30% or more, PPE products have helped to cushion the revenue blow on what might have been an even worse situation. We are now entering the return to work phase here in Australia and demand has not abated.”

Initially, sourcing products in direct response to the urgent need was a priority, but now future proofing business is also becoming a critical issue as the prospect of lifting stage three regulations gets closer.

The Australian government has eased off restrictions in alignment with its three-stage plan to reopen the country and return to normality, with stage three expected to commence in July, according to Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison. This decision may cause a spike in PPE demand.

Finsbury Green also emphasises that the role of procurement has proved its importance within the company, as well as in wider operations in Australia. Wade says: “In our business, it has highlighted how quickly it can respond to a crisis outside of business as usual.”

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